Monday, December 1, 2008

New Literacies

I just finished reading the Fall issue of OnCUE, the publication for CUE, Computer Using Educators, Addressing the 21st Century Literacies. This issue is about the New Literacies. Wow! This issue was like an answer to an age long prayer. I have been rambling on to whoever will listen about the obsolete processes and requirements of the current educational system.

Chris Fitzgerald Walsh's article Wiki Racing and the New Reading looks at the ways we get our information. It no longer is comes from turning the pages of a book. The New Reading consists of podcast, You Tube, text messages, Discovery Channel, learning that easily accessible and quickly absorbed. Most of the books, fiction, that I read or rather listen to are audio books. I can do this while driving or cleaning and organizing. Oprah did a 10 week web cast on a Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth. I have not yet read the book but have a sense of it and do quote from the parts that I know. I can have a meaningful conversation about this book and not have read it.

We need to broaden our definition of Reading and literacy. Depending on what source you reference, after the commonly known definition of "ability to read and write", the third definition is "a person's knowledge of a particular subject or field". This is what Chris Walsh was referring to. My students and I can get tons of information about Sharks from Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

This reminds me of a question posed to a group of administrators a few years ago. If reading, as we know it, decoding, blending and comprehending the written word becomes obsolete what would we as educators do? The thought sent waves of fear around the room. What will we do? It was truly inconceivable that reading and it's importance might wane. Why do we read? For enjoyment and to acquire knowledge. Can that be done without sight sound correlation? the answer is yes. So, how long will it take educators to learn how to deal with the change.

More next time.